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Chat with Film Director Annie Venable

2010. 10 March

Sisters, a series of documentaries about 21 Australian and Chinese women who are making a difference to their communities, is going to be shown in the Australian Pavilion during the Expo. The filmmaker Annie Venable had an exclusive chat with Urbanatomy about her films.

by Rosemary Zhu

( Why did you choose the theme of "women" for this documentary?
Well, I didn’t come up with idea of
‘women’, our creative director Pete Ford did. He has been working on several different World Expo projects for Australia and wanted to do something really refreshing and eye-catching this year. Inspired by the concept of ‘sister cities’, he suggested that I make a movie focusing on the subject of women.

How long did it take to make the whole movie? Did you meet any difficulties or obstacles?
I first started in 2009, and the whole project took me over one year. We have been to 21 different destinations and most of them went smoothly. The only trouble we met was a technical problem when we were shooting a scene in a steel factory. The electromagnetic waves produced by the machine inside the factory became a real headache as our camera couldn’t work at all. Jesus, I never thought I would have to deal with such technical problem.

What's the relationship between city and citizens?
City and people living inside the city can not be separated. Take Shanghainese girl Chen Fei for example, she won an international gold medal for outstanding young inventors for her innovative idea. Her invention captures the heat emitted by an air-conditioner and uses it to heat water for cooking and cleaning. The only reason she came up with the idea is that she has been living in the city for about 16 years and suffering for the heat made by air-conditioners during summer time.

The protagonists come from all walks of life. How did you choose them?

We were trying to search for people from different backgrounds, including ages, professions, achievement and etc to see how they’re shaping the present to change the future. We didn’t deliberately choose matches between Chinese women and Australian women. However, when during the shoot, pairs just emerged. For instance, there are two artists in their 60s, passionate about what they’re doing and want to pass their craftsmanship to their children. We can see there’s an invisible parallel between women from different nations.

Do you regard yourself as one of these ‘sisters’?
I hope I can be one of them. I am passionate about what I am doing and determined to change the world in some way by my work as they are. I’ve been working as a film director and producer for over 30 years and I always hope my work will inspire people and convince them that it is possible to change as long as you start right now.

Do you have any other inspirations in mind this year? What are you expecting for the up coming Expo?
I will keep on telling stories about powerful figures in the year of 2010. I hope to visit the Expo in May and invite all the women I featured in the documentary to come down here and present their work and talent for the visitors come from all over the world. It could be very exciting.